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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  August 8, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am PDT

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whether he wants to talk about it or not, he's inviting them in, and they are incredibly extreme on women's health. >> that tent is an increasingly scary and rowdy place. irin carmon gets the last word. thanks for joining us. >> thanks, alex. >> be sure to watch the very last word on lastword@msnbc.com. and you can always follow my tweets @alex wagner. "hardball" is next. romney versus romney. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews down in washington. let me start with this. revelation. do you believe it? a true revelation. did you hear? the romney crowd has let slip the biggest fact of the campaign. that the former massachusetts governor is not just proud of the health care plan he rammed through up there, he wishes people like that fella in the new obama ad whose wife died of
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cancer and presumably everyone else living outside massachusetts could benefit from such a program. he wants people no matter where they live in this country to have a state-driven health care plan. it's a rarity in modern politics. a stunning declaration. what we expected to be true and now for the first time in the campaign a candidate openly confesses, romney long ago said he saw his massachusetts health care plan as a model for the country. now his campaign spokesperson is trumpeting that fact. but wait a minute, isn't he the guy out there promising to kill national health care if he gets elected? and that's the true revelation. we see in romney the guy who promises one thing, believes another, and is now confounded and embarrassed by the ridiculous bad news and the forked tongue contradiction here between the way he presents himself and the way he is. joining me now is democratic strategist bob shrum and john heilman, also an msnbc analyst. we see here been talking about it since yesterday. the ad's narrated by a man whose wife died of cancer.
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he had lost his health care after bain capital took over the steel plant where he worked. his wife died years later. let's listen to this ad. >> then one day she became ill and i took her up to the jackson county hospital. and admitted her for pneumonia. that's when they found the cancer. and by then it was stage 4. it was -- there was nothing they could do for her. and she passed away in 22 days. i do not think mitt romney realizes what he's done for anyone. and furthermore, i do not think mitt romney is concerned. >> well, here's how romney's spokeswoman andrea saul, his top spokesperson, responded to that harsh ad today. let's watch closely what she says. >> to that point, you know, if -- you know, if people had been in massachusetts under governor romney's health care plan, they would have had health care. there are a lot of people losing their jobs and losing their health care in president obama's economy.
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>> if that man and his wife had lived in massachusetts instead of indiana, they would benefit from a health care plan. this is a ridiculous declaration. bob shrum, sometimes the day-to-day tactics get confused with the strategy. isn't this guy running against health care, trying to deny his own past with health care that you were involved fighting him on, and now his spokesman out there saying, yeah, but let's not forget, he had health care, the same health care plan, by the way, he wanted the whole country to model itself after. here we go. bob shrum. >> well, he doesn't have any strategy or any particular vision. they wanted this to be a one-dimensional referendum. if you're kind of unhappy with the economy, then give me a try. so you're going to get all sorts of things like this. they're not ready. they had 18 years to get ready for the bain attacks that crushed romney when he ran against ted kennedy. they could have straightened out his finances, made sure i paid tax taxes. closed swiss bank accounts. they didn't do it. >> don't go over the whole list of all his problems p i think we've got here the most severe problem of his campaign.
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he is running as the former moderate governor of massachusetts. pretending now to be a right winger as the ram rod spear carrier of the right wing. if you don't trust me, at least trust me when i say i'm going to washington to take away obama care. that's my number one goal. now it comes out his spokesperson is saying whoa, our greatest achievement is health care. we did the very model. they're falling back on where they were five years ago. it seems to me they've got a real problem here. jack kennedy said he felt sorry for dick nixon because he didn't know on any given day which dick nixon to be. and that seems to be romney's problem. >> that's exactly what i'm saying. look, today they endorsed in essence the central idea of the affordable care act. they've done it because they're in a lot of trouble. they've run a campaign where they've had, as i wrote in the daily beast today, they've lost the long, hot summer. they've ended up in a situation where romney's upside down in his favorable and unfavorable.
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these bain ads are really hurting him. and they come one this answer. it seemed opportunistic. it was stupid. >> that's so well said. john heilemann, it's a case of trying to be tricky and clever and stepping into the very admission by making the admission they really love health care if you can have it. and this poor woman died of cancer because she didn't have health care. it's an amazing admission by a top spokesperson. >> well, chris, you know, a lot of people have pointed out from the very beginning when mitt romney ran for the republican nomination that this health care issue was going to be a killer for him and very difficult to deal with. you'll remember there were a lot of people on the right who said, precisely anticipating this kind of problem, who said you need to repudiate your massachusetts plan. you nood to stand up and say i got it wrong, i'm not for it. and at least that would have been shown a certain -- created certain problems, it would have at least given him the consistent position to attack president obama's health care plan. now he's stuck in a situation where because he didn't want to repudiate the plan he now is in this middle ground where he says this thing which is kind of incoherent, which is, well, i
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think the plan -- i think my plan was great. it was great for massachusetts. it wouldn't be great for the country, though. although as you pointed out -- >> it would be good for indiana. >> although as you pointed out he has said that on some occasions in the past. now he's in this ridiculous position where they're saying what they actually believe. he's proud of the plan. this is andrea saul committing the classic definition of a gaffe. she's speaking for her boss perfectly. he believes in massachusetts in romney care. he thinks it's great. the problem for him is the con trorgss he's had to go through to get right with the right and that puts him in a position where this thing is going to come back to kill him in the debates because you know president obama's going to say -- is going to cite this very instance when it comes up in the first presidential debate and romney's not going to have a very good answer that i can possibly conceive of. >> well, not surprisingly as you just pointed out and bob you've been talking about, many conservatives said they felt betrayed today. conservative blogger erick erickson, he does red state. he says, "oh, my god, "omg. this might just be the moment mitt romney lost the election on
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this very comment today by his spokesperson." he says, "wow." and rush had this to say on his radio show. let's listen to rushbo. >> i don't know the people at the romney campaign. but i'm telling you, your candidate is accused of killing a woman. because -- this isn't about health insurance. they're out there saying that your guy killed this woman. and your answer is? well, she'd have had health insurance if she lived in massachusetts? >> and there you go, bobby. it's unbelievable. there he is saying if she lived in massachusetts, not in indiana -- he's basically reminding us all, she is his spokesperson, that the whole country should have health care like they did in massachusetts. exactly what obama did. there's no issue in the debate now. if you listened to andrea saul today, they've got nothing to debate in the fall. >> here's what they're going to say. john, check me on this. they're going to say well this isn't a federal issue. each state should decide. but the logic of what andrea
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saul said today was that everybody should have this. if this poor family, this man and his wife who lost their health coverage because bain took over this plant and the workers all got fired and lost their health benefits, they should have lived in a state like massachusetts. they should have lived in a country like america which now under the affordable care act does exactly what andrea saul was praising and what john says i think correctly. mitt romney believes in. you know who stood with mitt romney who worked on that bill in massachusetts, stood there proudly and both spoke at the signing of that bill? ted kennedy. that has conservatives furious. >> now john, do the assessment now. you've got rush limbaugh out there jumping up and down like he does like that underwater walrus of his. and he's jumping up and down. and then you've got people like red state eric erickson who speaks for a lot of people on the right. how can they now attack obama care knowing as recently as today their candidate, who they thought they could trust to stick it to obama, is out there selling romney care? the same thing.
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>> look, chris, i've always thought it was going to be very difficult to make this work. because the argument is -- there are issues on which federalism is a justifiable issue. to argue. where you say you want state experimentation. but in this case if your argument is that an individual mandate constitutes european-style socialism, you can't say that it's european-style socialism, it's good in one state and it's bad in another state. either you're against european-style socialism or you're for it. and if you have it in massachusetts it's presumably because you think it's a good thing, european-style socialism. i think it's an intellectually unsustainable position. for a while it looked like it could be a politically sustainable position. it got him through the republican nomination fight. but it's intellectually crazy. this shows exactly how difficult it's going to be to ever make this argument in a coherent way going forward. >> okay. here's saul, this woman, andrea saul, who wasn't the only person to allude to the massachusetts plan today. the candidate himself, mitt romney, brought it up. he suggested it qualified him to
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tackle dealing with obama's health care law. let's watch the candidate. >> that doesn't mean that health care's perfect. we've got to do some reforms in health care. i have some experience doing that, as you know. >> there you go again. i just don't know how he can keep doing this. it is getting so confusing. and back to you, john. this campaign issue. let's take a look at the "washington examiner." phillip klein, who writes for the "washington examiner," which is a conservative paper i read every morning, let's hear what he had to say about this. he says it gets to a deeper problem with romney's campaign. quote, "i do think it's an example of a broader problem. romney consistently attempts to make up with tactics what he lacks in vision." that's what you said, bob. "romney's campaign isn't driven by any core ideology or governing philosophy but by responding to news cycles. so if romney thinks touting his past support for government-run health care today can help defend against baseless attacks on his business career, he'll tout away. even if in a week the case against government-run health
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care he'll make tomorrow." bob, that's the point you made. he doesn't have a plan to say where he stands. by the way, i can see him losing this election by a point or two or winning and then sawing, you know, i really did believe what i did up in massachusetts. we have no idea what he believes because what he says is no guide to what mitt romney believes. >> well, that's certainly true. although if he wins this election, he would be as grover norquist says, a pen who would have to sign the things that were sent to him by the republicans in congress. he wouldn't risk, as we've seen him in the cynicism of this 2012 campaign, he wouldn't risk a primary challenge in 2016 i going against it. but you know the real problem here? aside from the lack of a strategy. the real problem is when you run as someone you're not it's hard to keep straight who you're supposed to be. and every once in a while, the real you comes out. >> i know. you're so right. >> he says the wrong thing. in this case he probably said the right thing on the merits but it's wrong for him
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politically. >> that's the terrible thing about telling the truth. be consistent. just keep telling the truth. john, last thought. >> i go a bit further. it's obviously true they have a tactical campaign and that's gotten them in trouble on a lot of areas. these aren't even good tactics. this is a tactical error. you would think at a minimum you could get the tactics right here. i agree he has strategic problems and he has core governing philosophy ideological problems but this is kind of -- this is like campaign 101. to make this kind of an unforced error this late in the campaign when there's not as much pressure as in september and october, i think it bodes badly for them what the fall holds. >> it's only the evening of the day it happened. so don't deny the possibility that romney will take this spokesperson of his andrea saul to the woodshed and blame it on her. reagan used to do that. thank you, bob shrum and john heilemann. coming up, ryan's hope. the latest buzz is that paul ryan really does have a chance to be named mitt romney's number two.
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conservatives hunger for him. but can mitt really pick a guy who wants to replace medicare with a means-tested voucher system and bumps the cost of health care it's retirees? that's going to sell. also the hostile tea party takeover of the gop gained more momentum last night. the house is already occupied territory by the tea party. now the senate may be about to fall to them. the republican party is going through a metamorphosis to the hard right. and to paraphrase jim croce, you don't tug on superman's cape, you don't spit into the wind and you don't pull the mask off that old lone ranger. and you don't mess around with bill. bill clinton, that is. the romney campaign's dishonest ad about welfare reform has stirred the big dog into action just weeks before the democratic contention. that's a bad move, and i love it. i love that bill's coming into this thing. finally cherks this out. is mitt romney trying to take the words out of this guy's mouth so he can do a bet yes job of pandering to him? the answer -- look at this. the answer in the sideshow. this is "hardball," the place for politics. ose little things still get you.
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new poll numbers from some key battle ground states. let's go to the "hardball" score board. obama has a four-point lead in virginia. that's the key state in this election. it's obama 49, romney 45 by the way getting close to 50, which is key. next to wisconsin where the poll finds obama up by 6. also good news. that's paul ryan's state. 51-45. now finally to colorado. some bad news here, where it's romney up with a five-point lead in this state. i think the obama people have been counting on. we'll be right back.
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♪ i think they really did that to that woman. they threw her off the cliff. welcome back to "hardball." those few seconds from that single ad, unfair as it may seem
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to some, sum up the paul ryan problem for mitt romney. how can he pick as his vp someone who wants to turn medicare into a means tested voucher system for future beneficiaries? there's been a lot of buzz the last few days romney may go for ryan as his running mate. as that ad suggests, the young dynamic congressman who would excite the right comes with a big red warning label as well. mark halperin and chris cillizza are here. highly regarded msnbc political analysts. let me go to mark on this one. mark, it seems to me there's a big debate about whether the price has already been paid. that he's going to have to defend his earlier support for the ryan plan. he might as well have the face of ryan and thereby get the personal courage attached to a very difficult case you have to make for really cutting the benefit of medicare to older people. >> i don't think it's relevant who he will pick or should pick. he does have to have that fight. i think there are other problems with ryan in terms of whether he's perceived as being ready to be president, whether he's got the executive person.
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it is the case that the president's greatest sense of confidence in going after mitt romney in the fall revolves around these budget choices, tax cuts for the wealthy, of spending decisions, medicare, medicaid. there's no doubt the president's going to go after that no matter what. if they pick ryan the democrats will have a hook to go over that even more. but i don't think that's relevant to the question of whether he will or should pick him. >> let's get to the subsequent question. i think we ought to get there eventually anyway. people like the idea of cutting government spending. i love the idea of fiscal responsibility. i'm a hawk generally. but most people come down to some programs that they don't want cut. if you have worked all your life from the time you were serving newspapers in your teens to 65 and you're finally getting medicare and you don't have a lot of money in the bank and you have health challenges you don't want someone coming along like ryan is saying, a young fit guy saying, all right, i'm in my 30s, you're in your 70s, now here's the deal, no more medicare. what you're going to get is a voucher, which will be means tested. so if you've got a few bucks in
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the bank you're going to get a lot less. and by the way, we're going to squeeze you, a lot of co-pay there. so you're paying for half the operation. that to me is a killer for anybody who's retired. >> two things. one, i think you're right. in that the idea that the ryan plan and frankly any plan that's going to restore our fiscal health is based on we have to make tough choices now for the future. if you're 65 plus that may be -- >> but if you're a rich guy or a rich woman you don't depend on government programs. >> agreed. and second, and this is important i think as it relates to the political calculation here, is what do we know about 65-plus-year-old voters? they are the single most reliability voting bloc. they vote midterm elections -- >> i'm not knocking it. when you get in your 80s -- imagine being in your 80s, young man. think about the -- you don't drive a car. you depend on the news on the television. you hear this conversation, and you think i'm not taking any chances. >> that's the thing. it's the slippery slope argument democrats will make. which is well, they're saying
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this now but what will they say when they get in office? one other step -- >> you know why they say that to the older people? because every time it comes up a chance to cuss something the republicans want to cut medicare. >> that's the danger of putting ryan on the -- one quick thing on older folks, chris. in 2008 john mccain lost them by -- won them by four. in 2004 george bush won them by eight. obviously we know in '04 bush won. in '08 mccain lost. you start talking about medicare every day you'll -- >> raise the subject. newt gingrich didn't even support paul ryan's plan. not even he. you can be sure this clip is in the obama campaign research trove. let's listen to this. i want you to react to this. here he is, newt, pounding ryan. >> i don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. i don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for free society to operate. so there are things to do to
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improve medicare -- >> but not what paul ryan is suggesting which is completely changing medicare. >> i think that's too big a jump. >> there's a guy who had to lead a caucus in the house. and knew the price you pay every time you touch this baby. he lost members over this. the members have come back to him from visits home. mr. speaker, mr. leader, stay out of medicare. >> there's no question that if ryan were on the ticket the democrats would almost certainly use that clip at least in a web video. not in a real ad and they would go hard after saying more than they otherwise could get away with and work into the argument, the dialogue, that mitt romney and paul ryan are going to have to defend the ryan budget. which romney has basically endorsed. but i'll say again, that's what the president's going to go after mitt romney for anyway. if mitt romney can't defend his support for the ryan budget in the debates and in the fall dialogue, he's going to have a very hard time winning the election. and if he wants a mandate for governing, he's going to have to win the thing if he wins the election, he's going to have to take on that fight. i think picking ryan has other issues with it as i've said
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before. but there's no doubt that this gives democrats with the media and with the public a real entree not just to older voters but to all voters who overwhelmingly oppose the ryan budget in a lot of ways including a lack of new revenue from wealthier americans. >> okay, good point. but second point. let's put all this together. the latest news is romney may be on the ropes a little bit because of the admission by his chief spokesperson, andrea saul, that basically he or she speaking for him thinks that that fella who lost his wife to cancer would be better if they had health care in indiana like they have in massachusetts. does he now have to throw something to the right? you can't have a guy once like pawlenty and live with and go to somebody like ryan. >> i still think the answer is no. the reason is not because of mitt romney but because of barack obama. that is the right dislikes barack obama so much that it doesn't matter that they're not super sold on -- >> are you all watching out there on the right? he doesn't care what you want. he's got you -- >> i think that's relatively true. one other quick point -- >> i disagree with you.
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i think they're afraid of romney. i think they're always suspicious he's a deep down elitist from the east. >> they're not going to vote for barack obama. >> let me get back to you. you always know this, mark. which way -- is there anything developing or has that decision already been made, do you think, of vp? >> i think he probably has known for a while where he was likely to go. i don't know the status of who he's told and where the thing stands. but i am still keeping out there the notion that there may be a surprise pick. just in the body language. but whoever it is, i can guarantee you they will be -- i can guarantee you that they will be seen as unambiguously qualified to be president from day one and that means again that there are some people like a paul ryan who i think people would say is he old enough, does he have the national security experience? he's a great guy. he's talented in a lot of ways. but i'm not sure he'll meet that bar instantly for enough americans for governor romney to live up to his promise. >> i think you have to be a governor to be a real executive.
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how about for body language chris christie. that's body language. >> i still think he's very much in the mix. >> thank you. you didn't get my joke. you didn't want to get it. thank you very much. mark halperin. thank you. chris cillizza. up next, what's the story of this bizarre picture we're seeing of mitt romney. does he really have his hand in that other guy's mouth? i guess he's demonstrating something. anyway, the sideshow's coming next. we'll tell you what he's doing there. this is "hardball," the place for politics. [ gnome ] enjoying your holiday? ooo no. the hotel lost our reservation. nonsense! you book at travelocity, your reservation's guaranteed. well, i did not book with travelocity, okay?!?
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♪ back to "hardball." now the sideshow. i told you yesterday about the predicting power of wikipedia edits when it comes to potential v.p.s. sarah palin's page was updated at least 68 times the very day before mccain announced that she would be his running mate. enter steve colbert. >> the number of times a wikipedia page has been edited predicts the chances for the vp
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slot. i like friend of the show tim pawlenty. so to up his chances i'm going to get on the old wikipedia to pump up his edit count. let's see here. wait a minute. what am i doing? this is wikipedia. anything you type in here becomes reality. "on august 10th, 2012, tim pawlenty was named mitt romney's running mate." get on wikipedia and edit any of these guys' pages to give them the edge. or maybe edit the page of more of a dark horse. like mitt romney's dark horse. >> wow. get this. perhaps thanks to colbert's troublemaking with the already error-prone wikipedia the website has locked the editing option for the pages of many of the top contenders. rob portman, tim pawlenty and paul ryan included. the only people who can still make et cetera to those pages are wikipedia users who make changes on a regular basis. early this week we got a glimpse of hillary clinton
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dancing with local farmers in malawi. another leg of clinton's african tour brought her to johannesburg yesterday where clinton attended a reception hosted by south africa's foreign minister. ♪ >> what can i say? clinton will have visited seven african nations in all. i think she likes it out there on the road. footbally, check out this photo of mitt romney at a factory in chicago just yesterday. in a bizarre trick of photography perspective, it looks like that factory employee is biting mitt romney's fingernails. new york magazine jumped in way potential captain. whoa there, you're trimming my fingernails with your teeth. hey there, that's okay. you're a hard-working american. thanks, friend. anyway, it's entirely possible romney might actually have been saying that.
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up next, the tea party's hostile takeover of the republican party picked up steam last night. cot u.s. senate go the same way the house has? you're watching "hardball," the place for politics.
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hello, everyone. i'm lynn berry, and here's what's happening. the fbi says the suspected sikh temple shooter wade michael page died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after being shot by police. investigators think he acted alone. nancy brinker, founder of the susan g. komen organization, is being shuffled out as ceo. the cancer charity was scrutinized earlier this year after temporarily deciding to cut planned parenthood funding. and july marks the hottest ever recorded month in the continental united states, fueling the wicked midwest drought. now we'll send you back to "hardball."
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welcome back to "hardball." did you need more evidence that the republican party of 2012 is a very different party than it used to be? take a look at what happened last night in missouri. a tea party backed ultracsetodd akin took on the nn to take on mccaskill. add him now to the candidates in the republican field this year. others include indiana's richard murdoch, who proudly says bipartisanship ought to consist of democrats coming to the republican point of view. and texas tea partier ted cruz. he's big-time. cruz defeated david dewhirs, a conservative who was branded with the dirty word moderate by outside groups. in kansas last night, it was a tea party takeover as nine incumbent moderate republican state senators, nine republican senators were ousted for the sin of "working with democrats." well, we've seen what the tea party has done to the u.s. house last summer. and remember the debt ceiling
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disaster last summer. no deal they kept saying. now it looks like they're going for the senate. matt kibbe is thrilled. i see his smile. he's president the 69 tea party group freedomworks. he's auth of "hostile takeover." matt, i think what's going on in your party and may be going on in some -- it'll take five, ten years the way it's going. there was a big change in the democratic party from a centrist even rural conservative party back in the '20s. in the '30s roosevelt turned it into a social democratic party for many years. it moderated later. but it became a social democratic party. a left party. the democratic party shifted again in the 1960s. from a segregationist party to a pro-civil rights party. under kennedy and johnson. is the republican party going through a metamorphosis like that, moving from a establishment party to basically a populist party of the right? >> i think it is a rehabilitation that's being pushed from the bottom up. >> rehabilitation? >> it's a rehabilitation. we have hope for everybody. >> going back to what? what are you taking it back to? >> going back to the rhetoric
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they've always run on, which is fiscal responsibility, moving money and power out of washington and making sure that individuals have that control -- >> moving money to the koch brothers? >> no. >> well, your money's all coming from very wealthy establishment individuals. they're the ones putting in the millions. >> you need to wade through a tea party sometime. >> i know the people are there. but who's paying for the tv ads that win the elections? >> we don't do tv ads. >> well, ted cruz looks like a future star. let me go to michelle goldberg with this. we saw what happened when the country had a downgraded credit rateing when they couldn't reach a deal. because the conservatives, like them or not, were intransigent. boehner was out there like some character out of a jack lemmon movie, just crying he couldn't get it done, he couldn't move his troops because they were not republicans, they were tea partiers. is this going to happen to the senate? >> now you're going to see mitch mcconnell crying in a similar way. >> that would be something i'd look forward, to actually. >> one of the things about the
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race in texas was there was no substantive issue differences between ted cruz and his opponent. it was specifically that he charged his opponent, you know, rick perry's deputy is too much of a compromiser, too likely to work with -- >> but the word moderate is now like a four-letter word. >> specifically said too likely to work with mcdonnell. or look at somebody like todd akin, who is taking on claire mccaskill. that was very recently, it's not as big as the debt ceiling debacle but there was recently a compromise to stop federal student loan interest rates from rising. you know, but during that debate todd akin, who might now end up in the senate, said that federal involvement in student loans has thrust america into the stage 3 cancer of socialism. so this is not somebody who's going to be able to work on federal education policy except to obstruct it at every step. >> richard murdoch, the tea party candidate, could be the
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next senator frind ind, next senator from indiana, replacing dick lugar. this is what he had to -- >> bipartisanship ought to consist of democrats coming to the republican point of view. we entered this campaign wanting to be a voice and hoping to give more of a national voice to the idea that republicans and more specifically conservatives would be in the majority of the united states senate and the house and hopefully that we'd have a republican in the white house. if we do that, bipartisanship means they have to come our way. and to me the highlight of politics frankly is to inflict my opinion on someone else with a microphone or in front of the camera to win them over to my point of view. >> well, that's a war of annihilation he's talking about. like you take over tokyo after the war -- second world war. you take berlin. that's what you literally call wars avenue nielgs. you completely defeat your opponent and you force him to accept your will. >> well, that's -- >> let our guest here matt up here. i'm sorry, michelle, let matt talk. you smile when you see that guy. you like the way he talks. >> i think that's awesome. i would love to see the senate come in with some new ideas. i think the freshmen from the 2010 class in the senate are the
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only guys that actually put budget ideas on the table. so i'd love to see richard mourdock. >> give me a positive idea from the tea party. >> the tea party debt commission came one a plan to deal with every program in the federal budget, balance the budget in less than five years. we put defense on the table. we put entitlements on the table. >> let's go through the list. here are the top ten players of the federal government. let's get away from the b.s. and generalities. tell me which one of them you would cut. defend spending. >> yes. >> social security. >> i would reform social security -- >> would you cut the amount of money that goes to it? >> not necessarily. >> would you cut spending -- >> i would reform the program -- >> no. you say you're going to cut government spending. this is where government spending goes. would you cut government spending that goes to social security benefits? >> let me -- >> see your problem? >> let me be clear. you can't cut entitlements. you have to reform them. >> but with the purpose of reducing the spending? >> my purpose would be to make sure that individuals actually got real savings out of the program. the current program asks the
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young people to pay more and more, get less and less. that's a time bomb. that's not going to last. >> we're talking about government spending here. as a portion of the federal budget is this one of the areas where you can cut spending? >> yes. you have to. >> you cut spending for social security. can you cut spending toward medicare? >> you have to change the system. >> but can you cut -- you're talking about cutting government spending. give me some areas. >> i'm telling you what we actually proposed in our tea party budget was transforming from a defined benefit, a system that charges people month, gives them less to a defined contribution where people have more control over their health care decisions, over their retirement decisions. that is the only way to get the unfunded liabilities under control. >> i know it's a personal account. i understand that. i'm just talking about cutting the spending. would you cut medicaid? >> i think you have to move to a block granted system. >> how about benefits for federal retirees? >> you think you have to keep the promises we have and move to a defined contribution system in the future. >> would you cut education? >> the federal government has no business involved in -- >> you'd zero that one out.
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how about transportation infrastructure, building highways and all that stuff would you cut that spending? >> i think the system is politicized and i would move all of that decision back to -- >> so you're basically saying you would cut everywhere? >> yeah. >> can anybody get -- are your candidates actually saying what you have said here. you don't run for office. are they willing to go to the voters this november and say by the way, i'm going to cut everywhere, including the programs that affect you? >> they're willing to say that we have to balance the budget. 16 trillion in debt sun sustainable. >> right. >> i'm willing to put ideas on the table. yo decide for yourself. >> okay. but romney's running to raise defense spending. >> right. >> he's not a tea partier then. >> he's not a tea partier. but you have to balance the budget and you have to make some tough choices. >> i agree with you on that. generally, i do. thank you. michelle, thanks for keeping track of these interesting people that seem to be growing in strength at the expense of people like john boehner, who's in tears already and mitch mcconnell, who i'm hoping to be in tears at some point generally speaking although i do fear the right. anyway, michelle, thank you. matt, you're good -- you come on. i say that for you. you come on. up next, let sleeping dogs lie.
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especially when that dog is the big dog, bill clinton. you know, elvis. bubba. he's got great names. and mitt romney's dishonest ad about welfare reform violates a big campaign rule. don't mess with bill. you hear the music. this is "hardball," the place for politics. ♪ don't mess with bill ♪ [ male announcer ] its lightweight construction makes it nimble... ♪ its road gripping performance makes it a cadillac. introducing the all-new cadillac xts. available with advanced haldex all-wheel drive. [ engine revving ] it's bringing the future forward.
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love that bumper. dirty angry money indeed. a lot of it the koch brothers group americans for prosperity have launched their biggest ad campaign yet against president obama. $25 million in 11 battleground states. the first attack ad blames the president for the rising national debt. why not? >> three years -- >> government spending -- >> $15 trillion -- >> trillions of unfunded debt -- >> 15 trillion -- >> $15 trillion. >> i will be held accountable. if i don't have this done in three years, then this is going to be a one-term proposition. >> the ads begin their run today and will last three weeks. we'll be right back.
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in 1996 president clinton and a bipartisan congress helped end welfare as we know it by requiring work for welfare. but on july 12th president obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements. under obama's plan you wouldn't have to work or train for a job. they just send you your check. >> that was the infamous mitt romney ad making headlines for its misleading portrayal of the obama administration's welfare policy. it caught the attention of one very important viewer. none other than bill clinton himself. the former president released a statement last night knocking down the ad's accusations as not true. he said in part, "the administration has taken important steps to ensure that the work requirement is retained. the welfare time limits, another important feature of the 1996 act, will not be waived. the romney ad is especially disappointing because as governor of massachusetts he requested changes in the welfare reform laws that could have eliminated time limits altogether." just what was the romney campaign ad thinking waking up
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the big dog as we call him? eugene vobs a pulitzer prize-winning columnist for the "washington post" and an msnbc analyst. and jonathan allen is a columnist for politico. gentlemen, i guess there's a strategy here in the tactic. bill clinton is not playing ball with these guys. i think clinton wants obama re-elected for a lot of reasons especially for the possibility his wife may become president some day. he sees no gain in a loss. >> there's absolutely nothing in it for bill clinton for barack obama to lose. therefore, this is not going to drive a wedge between barack obama and bill clinton. clinton came out immediately denouncing the ad, explaining that it's all wrong. and i think this will fire him up. i mean, you don't want to wake up the big dog. you don't want to mess with bill. so i don't get it. i mean, i don't get it as a tactic. >> this is what you want if you're bill clinton. dick nixon was nowhere in 1966, or whatever it was. johnson attacked him. called him a chronic campaigner. nixon goes on television with all kinds of rnc money and said
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this is the most savage attack by any politician in the history of american politics. he gets all the pr. he basically gets the nomination because johnson attacked him. here's bill clinton. you want to get attacked by the other side. >> well, bill clinton definitely wants to get attacked by the other side. but this was an attack on barack obama. and i do think there was some distance from bill clinton here. he's got to go out and defend obama particularly on thish. he's got this huge speaking role -- >> he signed the welfare bill. zwle signed the welfare bill. this came out in new york when bill clinton was in las vegas. came out from his foundation. he had to get it from the obama campaign or somewhere else. if you look at the language, it wasn't about savageness. he said it's not true and i find it disappointing. that's kind of time for politics these days. >> he wants to be the guy above it all, but he also wants to support. he doesn't want to be the attack dog, i agree. >> he's walking a fine line. >> so what do you think his point is? >> bill clinton's point? >> yeah. his goal. >> i think his point is mitt romney's wrong about it. this is really complicated
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policy when you get down to it. the real underlying problem is there aren't jobs for people to go from welfare to work right now. not in nevada and not -- >> you're waiting in line, the welfare check, your relief check, we used to call it, and you've got to say, okay, where would you go for that? what subway ride do i take for that one? >> exactly. you have to demonstrate that you're looking for work, but you're not finding work. you're not going to find a job these days. >> unemployment. you've got to look at too. >> 1996, you're talking about an unemployment rate, what, 4%? it was a lot easier to find a job then. and let's remember, bill clinton wasn't in favor of welfare reform at first. he rejected the first couple efforts by the republican congress and then final li came to the table, cut a deal, spoke softly about that deal. so this is not necessarily something democrats loved in the first place. they certainly don't like the way it's working out. >> look what bill's done. by the way, he looks healthy. people are talking about his health. he looks great. he tied his all-time favorability rating. in a recent gallup poll. 66% of americans have a favorable rating of the
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former president. just 28% unfavorable. that ties as i say his all-time high when he went into office in '93. that's his inaugural number there, gene. that's pretty good. you know what it tells you? monica and all that other stuff, it's amazing how you outlive it, you do good like he's done and it's now maybe in the tenth paragraph. >> people remember the 4% unemployment. people remember the growing economy and -- >> why are they afraid to attack him? why are they saying he's his favorite? they're saying good things about the guy. >> because they're going after the reagan democrats, the folks who might have leaned democratic at one point, maybe reagan sort of sliced them off. and the idea is to get those people back. to give them permission not to vote for barack obama. >> i know who he's talking to. he's talking about people of average means, white people mainly because minorities are really in love with obama, appropriately, historically, i understand that completely, but they're going for working-class white people mainly around philadelphia and the more regular suburbs, not wealthy suburbs, same thing around pittsburgh and the rural areas and they think, well, if they
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can say this guy's nothing like bill clinton they can take -- them strip away from clinton voters. >> that's right. they're not attacking bill clinton at all. they see 66%. they know what hillary clinton is polling. they want to associate themselves with bill clinton. >> what happens if bill clinton stands up on the platform in the burbs around lansdowne, what happens if he's in bucks county a week before the election standing next to obama? does that kill their plan? >> i don't know if it kills their plan, but you know this. you're from pennsylvania. pennsylvania is not very much in play for the republicans this year as it has been the previous years. >> i just think because of this ditzy thing they're doing with photo i.d.s i'm worried. >> that's the only wild card. but look, bill clinton, i think, is going to play a bigger role than he might have played if they hadn't done this ad, frankly. i think it brings him out. >> if bill clinton was going out and giving speeches for money, he wouldn't be the bill clinton he is today. he's been spectacular. >> nobody can argue -- >> my kid worked for it over in rwanda, working on aids, fighting against aids. he's done so much good. he's building a hotel. he's working down in haiti.
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my wife's involved with that down there. he does good things. >> and i think he's going to say, look, you know, whatever you think about barack obama, this guy romney is not it. >> i would like to see him give the keynote address in charlotte. that would be a barn burner. >> who did joe biden from the vice president's spot for bill clinton. >> he's the big dog. he's elvis. he's bubba. he's everything. anyway, thank you, gene robinson, and thank you, jonathan allen. when we return let me finish with the bind mitt romney finds himself in. he doesn't know who he's supposed to be. this is confusing. this is a revolting development for this guy, what happened with his spokesman saying he's really for health care. you're watching "hardball," the place for politics. age these da. but where's the relationship status? well, esurance is now in a relationship...with allstate. and it looks pretty serious. esurance. click or call.
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let me finish tonight with this. jack kennedy once said he felt sorry for his presidential rival dick nixon because nixon could never decide who he really was. on every public occasion, he had to decide how to present himself. in other words, which nixon to be. should he be the high-toned statesman or the rabid partisan? he always had to sweat that position right there before the klieg lights. now fast-forward to today and today's presidential rivalry. imagine how hard it is being mitt romney. let's see. which one am i supposed to be today? am i the tea party champion? the hater of obama care? the crusader bent on tearing into the nation's capital and tearing down everything obama built? starting with that terrible health care plan based on -- uh-oh. based on my health care plan up
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in massachusetts. well, you see, the problem here, but if it's hard being the candidate who at least gets to call the shots day to day, imagine trying to be a spokesperson for this guy. how would andrea saul know how much trouble she'd get into by saying today that the man in the latest obama ad who lost his wife to cancer after getting fired in a bain capital operation would have gotten health care if he were living in massachusetts? did you hear that? that poor fellow's wife might be alive today if the whole country had what mitt romney built up in massachusetts. that presumably the country would be better off if it took the lead from what mitt romney had up in mass. how is miss saul to know it's not right to say what mitt romney the candidate said years ago before he was a candidate, that the country should take massachusetts as a model when it comes to health care? how could she know that such a public admission is in the words of a late nixon spokesperson inoperative? so what a day this has been. the day that we can salute the romney team and the person of andrea saul

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